After five years in development, Hello Games has finally released its ambitious space exploration game, “No Man’s Sky.” And after more than three weeks of discovering new planets, mining resources and continuing my push toward the center of the galaxy, I’m still not entirely sure how I feel about the experience.
“No Man’s Sky” started out strong, largely delivering on its promise of truly open-ended gameplay. After awakening on an undiscovered planet with a busted spaceship, I began the slow process of gathering resources to craft upgrades for my ship and suit, which was providing me protection from the planet’s moderately high levels of radiation. I spent hours scouring the planet, exploring abandoned buildings, locating and identifying the native flora and fauna, and meeting some odd-looking aliens who seemed friendly enough even though I understood little of their language.
Eventually my need to discover every secret this planet held locked away behind those green question marks on my map took over and those hours turned into days. I continued collecting minerals and selling excess resources to increase my bankroll. I located a greatly improved version of my multi-tool, the handy device that is used both for mining and self defense from the AI sentinels that patrol the galaxy and take umbrage with the excessive removal of resources.
After spending nearly a week on my starting planet and having discovered 100 percent of the plants and animals that dwell there, I decided to make my first leap into outer space. The feeling of exhilaration that accompanied that first launch into the unknown was unforgettable, and I immediately set off in search of my next world to explore. I pointed my ship toward the nearest planet in the system, engaged my hyper-drive and touched down on my second planet in a matter of minutes.
I wasn’t altogether sure what to expect on this new planet — would there be a new alien race to meet or some grand new mystery to uncover? The answer, sadly, was no. From one planet the next I moved, and each time the process repeated itself. I would explore, tag some new creatures, collect more resources and continue to the next world. The magic I felt during those first few moments simply disappeared after so many hours and days of doing the same things over and over again.
What didn’t disappear, however, is the peaceful, zen-like feeling I got from simply taking my time and soaking up every inch of these strangely beautiful vistas. It is that feeling which keeps me coming back and continuing my interstellar journey. I know that I can boot up “No Man’s Sky” and chill out, whether for a few minutes or a few hours. It’s like my own virtual vacation.
There’s no doubt that “No Man’s Sky” has the potential to be a truly remarkable game. As Hello Games has promised to support the title with new content and updates, and with a solid foundation already in place, it’s easy to see what “No Man’s Sky” could one day become. But in its current state, “No Man’s Sky” shoots for the stars but ultimately comes up short.
“No Man’s Sky”
Developer: Hello Games
Publisher: Hello Games
Available for: PlayStation 4, PC ($59.99)
Rating: T for teen